Epic is my favorite game. I helped to fund it through the website Kickstarter.com, and I was able to visit the company to work on designing a card in return. Now that my bias is out of the way, let me tell you why I love this game.
Non-Collectible Trading Card Game (TCG)
Epic Card Game is a Non-Collectible Trading Card Game (TCG) which essentially means that the game relies exclusively on cards for game pieces, and you know exactly what cards you are going to get when you buy the game. (Epic Card Game base game is 120 specific, unique cards with MSRP $15.) Trading Card Games (TCGs) or Collectible Card Games (CCGs) such as Magic: The Gathering, on the other hand, rely on people buying “packs” of 15 random cards of different rarities.
In TCGs each player has their own unique deck of cards that they will use in order to play. The goal of the game is to utilize cards that stay in play (champions) and cards that are immediately discarded after use (events) to reduce your opponent(s) to 0 health (from 30).
This type of game is interesting because each card conforms to strict criteria, while functioning radically differently from one another. For instance, one player could play a large champion that will deal a lot of damage at once, while their opponent plays a tiny champion that lets them draw a card and continue to draw extra cards each turn. So in a TCG/CCG, each player is trying to pick the best cards to play at the best time to defeat their opponent.
Epic as my Favorite TCG
Epic has 3 unique mechanisms that dramatically set it apart from other similar games.
- Every card either costs 1 gold or 0 gold
- A player can make multiple attacks on their turn
- Each player gets 1 gold on their turn and on their opponent’s turn
1) In TCGs cards can only be played at certain times, and you must expend resources to do so. The general practice is to have your available resources grow throughout the game so cards can cost different amounts. This means that some cards will be literally unplayable early in the game or bad to play late in the game.
Since Epic cards either cost 1 gold or 0 gold, any card can be played from the first turn, and no card is inherently stronger on a pre-determined turn regardless of game state. For example, in Magic if you have 6 resources (lands) available on turn 6 and 2 cards in hand, you will usually play the card that costs 6 resources instead of the card that costs 2.
In Epic you must choose which cards to play every turn based on the current state of the game, instead of the cards choosing for you.
2) The most common way to reduce your opponent’s health is to attack them with your champions. Different TCGs handle this in different ways. In Epic, the current player can attack with any number of their champions. Then the defender may block with any number of their champions. If your attacker(s) are not blocked, they will damage your opponent’s health, otherwise the attackers will damage the defenders and vice versa. In addition, both players get a chance to play certain cards after attackers are declared, and then again after defenders are declared. Once an attack resolves, you can play more cards or declare another attack with different champions.
This system gives the most control to both players. The attacker chooses when and with what champions to attack with based on what he knows of his opponent. Then the defender can react, possibly doing something unexpected. So the attacker defines the fight, but the defender chooses how to best mitigate it.
3) TCGs generally either A) Do not allow players to play cards on their opponent’s turn or B) Force a player to save resources on their turn so they can potentially spend them on their opponent’s turn. Epic, on the other hand, gives each player a gold on their turn and their opponent’s (gold does not accumulate, it resets to 1 per person each turn).
Your opponent can use her gold at 3 points on your turn: after you have declared attacking champions, after she declares blocking champions, or when you try to end your turn. 73 of the 120 base cards can be played in some way on your opponent’s turn (champions with ambush or events). This adds ridiculous amounts of value to the game and makes attacking significantly more exciting.
As a rule of thumb, you should almost always spend your gold on each turn. When you spend it is the interesting part though. Do you attack first? Can you get your opponent to spend her gold first so she cannot react to yours? Or on the rare occasion do you try to end your turn before you have spent your gold?
These are the 3 primary mechanisms that make this game so spectacular (the art is also amazing). If you understand these 3 concepts, the rest of the game is basically just remembering key words (airborne, blitz, recall, etc.), turn flow, and champion positions. **Edit** After 7 more months of playing, 1 expansion, and qualifying for the first World Tournament, I am still uncovering more depth to the game even though the rules aren’t too complicated. **Edit**
How to Play Epic
Almost everything you need to know is included in the diagram of the turn flow below. I recommend having this and pages 15-18 (keyword explanations) available while playing. Everything else is explained after.
Turn Flow Diagram
If it is your turn, opponent’s can only play cards in the blue text spots: when passing initiative in the attack phase and when the current player tries to end his turn.
To build your decks you can either A) Deal out 30 random cards to each player B) Divide the cards by faction symbol (Evil, Good, Sage, Wild) and give each player one faction C) Draft as defined in the rule book and I will discuss in greater detail in future articles D) Construct your own deck with any cards, restrictions defined in rule book.
Champions have 3 positions: Prepared, Flipped, and Expended. When a champion is played, it enters play prepared. Only prepared champions can attack or be declared as a blocker. When a champion blocks it becomes flipped. Both prepared and flipped champions may activate expend powers. When a champion attacks or activates an expend power, it becomes expended.
In addition, the turn you play a champion it is also deploying. While a champion is deploying, it may not attack or activate expend powers. At the start of your turn, all your champions still “in play” lose deploying.
If a champion ever takes damage equal to or greater than its defense in a single turn it is immediately broken. Put it into its owner’s (the player whose deck it started in) discard pile. At the end of the turn, all champions heal any damage they took that turn.
If one or more champions attack and are blocked by one or more champions, they will assign all of their offense to each other as damage (none to the defending player). The attacker will choose how to distribute the offense from the attacking champions among the defense of the defending champions, and the defender will choose how to distribute the offense from the defending champions among the defense of the attacking champions.
Each player may mulligan at the start of the game. To do so, select up to 5 cards from your hand. Put them on the bottom of your deck, draw an equal number of cards, and lose that much health.
The first player does not draw a card on the first turn.
If you need to draw a card and your deck is empty, you win the game.
Your health can go above 30 (the starting health). Keep track of health with either the free Epic ScoreKeeper App, pen and paper, dice, or any other method you prefer. If you need more tokens or +1/+1 counters you can use dice, print off more from WWG’s website www.epiccardgame.com/rules/ , or even just use shreds of paper.
If a token would be removed from play such as being returned to hand, broken, banished (put on the bottom of its owner’s deck), etc. it is returned to the pile of available tokens instead.
Max hand size is 7 cards. If you have more than 7 cards in your hand at the end of your turn, discard down to 7.
I repeat, I love this game. This game makes me feel smart. Games are generally very different from each other. The more I play, the more I figure out, and the more I figure out, the more I enjoy the game. I love the 1 or 0 gold cards, gold on opponent’s turn, attacking, and all of the more emergent properties I to talk about in my next Epic article (Epic: 5 Critical Aspects).
Epic is something I enjoy so much that a decent portion of this blog is going to be devoted to Epic articles and following Epic competitive play. If you are within 30 minutes to an hour of Aurora/Naperville IL I would be thrilled to teach or play Epic with you at a board game store or other public place. For all those people that love Epic as much as I do, I look forward to potentially seeing you at competitions.
**Edit** To read more of my Epic articles (such as the deck I used to qualify for the World Tournament) click here. **Edit**